On paper, the result of the final round of the French election now looks to be a foregone conclusion; most observers would expect a solid victory for the more establishment Emmanuel Macron over the far-right Marine Le Pen.
But if we’ve learned anything from recent political events, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Certainly a Macron victory would be seen as the most market-friendly outcome. But there remain a number of unknowns that could affect the outcome, so we would expect markets to remain volatile in the run-up to the final round of voting on May 7 and potentially even beyond.
In particular, we think it’s important to remember that without parliamentary support, the options for whoever becomes French president are likely very limited.
Neither Le Pen nor Macron has a substantial parliamentary support base. Indeed, Macron has no representatives in parliament and would have to build an entire array of candidates. Of course, he may get some defections from other parties, but we think that the parliamentary elections in June will now become an importance focus.
In terms of deciding who wins the keys to the Elysee Palace, the most pressing question is, “who do the supporters of the eliminated candidates back?”
We’d expect Macron to pick up support from those voters who had previous supported Francois Fillon and Benoît Hamon, but what about those backing Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left firebrand who enjoyed a last-minute surge in popularity?